Ginger Gorman is an
award-winning journalist based in the Australian Capital Territory and, in 2013,
was the target of vicious online trolling (many women are), which included a
death threat. After the trolling subsided, she indulged her curiosity and
investigated these online trolls. Over the subsequent years, she spoke to psychologists,
trolling victims, law enforcement officers, academics, and some of the trolls
themselves, by embedding herself into their online communities. This resulted
in the book ‘Troll Hunting: inside the world of online hate and its human
When the vacuous Prime
Minister Scott Morrison tweeted ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those affected by the
fires devastating parts of New South Wales and Queensland, Gorman replied: “Don’t
you reckon ‘thoughts and prayers’ has become an international political
euphemism meaning… ‘I’m not doing anything to fix this’?”3 Indeed. This ‘thoughts and prayers’ drivel is
the same meaningless platitude delivered by politicians in the US after every
mass shooting, as they turn their backs and walk away from meaningful gun
reform. So it is, and has been, with climate change in this country. Not long
after Morrison sent ‘thoughts and prayers’, the vastly limited federal Treasurer,
Josh Frydenberg tweeted the same platitude4. Birds of a feather….
Some time after Ginger Gorman posted her
comment, Simon Holmes à Court posted the following: “I propose #GormansLaw:
anytime a politician offers thoughts and prayers, we read/hear them saying ‘I’m not doing
anything to fix this’.”5 I was already there; I just didn’t have a name for it6.
One of the most evocative images coming
from the fires is a photograph of a couple of young lads (the photographer’s
sons) standing calf-deep in water at Black Head back beach (near ForsterTuncurry),
looking at the fires which are raging some hundreds of metres in front of them.
This image was taken by a Martin Von Stoll. He told his boys to “take it in
because this is something you might not experience for the rest of your life.”7
Unfortunately, given the increasing pace of climate change, and the decrease in
rainfall across southeastern Australia, I think he is most likely mistaken. I
expect his lads will experience this sort of catastrophe fairly regularly.
David Rowe, who publishes in the Australian Financial Review, took the Von
Stoll image as a template, drawing a similar scene with Scott Morrison staring
at the fires like Von Stoll’s two boys. However, in this cartoon, Morrison is
holding two buckets full of water, one in each hand. That in the left hand is
labelled ‘thoughts’, with the one in the right hand labelled ‘prayers’. In
Morrison’s back pocket is a folded series of papers labelled ‘Climate Science’8,9,
During the fires, Morrison
and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited evacuees at Club Taree in Taree in northeastern
NSW. Morrison, it was said, made a beeline straight to a table full of elderly
residents who were having their lunch. An evacuee who lost his home said that
Morrison “didn’t really talk to anyone else. He went straight to them,
interrupted their lunch and just kept repeating ‘oh, how tragic’, and ‘wow,
that’s tragic’ as they told him their stories of losing their homes. There wasn’t
any real emotion or compassion.” He also claimed younger evacuees were ignored
as he put on a show for the waiting media crews, Morrison was then out the door
in 20 minutes10.
Whenever I see Scott
Morrison, especially standing mute with his gormless grin, I am reminded of the
quote, often erroneously attributed to Groucho Marx, among others. And that is:
‘The secret is sincerity, if you can fake that, you’ve got it made’11.
Morrison is the most transparently disingenuous politician I have ever seen.
Gorman’s Law epitomises him perfectly.